Map from Google - Armenia
In Armenia the climate is continental
, with cold winters and hot summers, and usually with little rain. Armenia is a mountainous country, and only a small portion of its territory is located below 3,300 feet above sea level, while there are no plains: the climate becomes both colder and wetter (and snowy in winter as well) with increasing altitude, while at lower elevations the rains are scarce and the summer is very hot. The driest region, where precipitation drops below 12 inches per year, is the west, which includes the capital, and its altitude goes below 3,300 feet.
In winter, cold air masses predominate, and after having reached the country from the north, they tend to stagnate in the valleys, causing severe frosts; spring is a volatile season and sees the most frequent rains, though generally they remain not abundant, because as mentioned, this country is generally arid, at least at lower elevations. Summer is dry and sunny, but with some afternoon thunderstorms in the mountains.
From the mountains, a down-slope dry and warm wind similar to Föhn or Chinook can reach the valleys, especially in winter, but also in spring and autumn.
The capital Yerevan
is located at 2,600 feet above sea level, therefore at the lowest altitudes of the country, and has an average temperature in January of 25.5 °F, and of 77 °F in July, with a maximum average temperature of 91 °F, but also with peaks of about 105 °F. So here summer is hot despite the altitude, even though the humidity is low and the breezes from the mountains bring a bit of relief. Winter is rather cold: in a year there are on average a hundred days with minimum temperatures below freezing, and snow, though usually not abundant, can cover the ground for weeks. In winter the mountains are covered with snow, and the inhabitants of the capital go skiing in Tsaghkadzor.
Here are the average temperatures of Yerevan.
Average temperatures - Erevan
In Yerevan, precipitation amounts to only 11 inches per year, therefore it's at semi-desert levels, however the rainiest season is spring, with 1.2/1.6 inches per month, while summer is the least rainy season, and it's also sunny, here as elsewhere in the country.
Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Erevan
From Yerevan, you can see on the horizon the spectacular Mount Ararat, which however is located in the Turkish territory.
In the north, Gyumri
(formerly Leninakan) is very cold due to the altitude, being located at 5,000 feet, and has an average temperature in January of 16.5 °F, but in the worst times it can drop to about -30 °F. Summer is quite warm, at least if you consider the altitude: highs in July and August are about 79 °F, and sometimes it can get even hot, although nights remain cool.
Average temperatures - Gyumri
In Gyumri, 20 inches of rain (or snow) per year fall, confirming the rule that the areas located at higher altitudes receive more rainfall. Here, even in summer sometimes it can rain because of afternoon thunderstorms, which can occur in the mountains, and therefore the driest season (at least in quantity) is winter, when precipitation, though not abundant, always occurs in the form of snow, while the wettest period runs from April to June: in May and June the thunderstorms are a bit more frequent, because a bit of cold air can still arrive at high altitudes, increasing the thermal contrasts, while in July and August the atmosphere becomes warmer even at high elevations, and therefore it becomes more stable.
Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Gyumri
, located at 6,600 feet above sea level, on the lake of the same name, in winter is not colder than Gyumri, because the waters of the lake slightly mitigate the climate: in fact the average in January is 18 °F, while the average in August is just 58.5 °F.
Average temperatures - Sevan
In a year, the rainfall amounts to about 20 inches, again with a maximum between spring and early summer, and a minimum in winter. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Sevan
When to go
To visit Yerevan and the areas below 3,300 feet, which in summer can be very hot, the best times are spring and autumn
, especially the month of May, and from mid-September to mid-October. At higher altitudes, such as in Gyumri and Lake Sevan, you can choose instead summer, from June to September. Wanting to find a compromise for the whole country, you can choose June and September, or even July and August for those who can stand the heat.
What to pack
In winter: very warm clothes, fleece, down jacket, hat, scarf, gloves.
In summer: in Yerevan, light clothes for the day, sun hat, sweatshirt and light jacket for the evening; in Sevan and above 6,500 feet, spring/autumn clothes, sun hat, sweater and warm jacket for the evening, possibly a raincoat or umbrella.